Some of the university’s groundskeepers, maintenance staff, advisers and nonadministrative staff could lose their ability to cash out their built-up sick leave pay. Thankfully, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union, which represents those workers, rejected the university’s proposal to delay the change in policy.
Currently, these employees are able to cash out their sick leave hours for a quarter of the pay.
For an employee working for the $9.75 university minimum wage, that’s only $2.44 per unused sick leave hour. Last week, the university proposed a new plan that employees hired after Jan. 1 or employees that have cashed out their sick leave pay should follow a “use-it-or-lose-it” plan, meaning no payout would be available for unused sick time.
The proposal made by the university is entirely unfair.
Conveniently, this proposal came about when the university discovered there was $23 million worth of accrued sick leave on the books.
It is understandable the budget must become tighter, but continuing to make cuts to the lower parts of the University System is just unfair. Rather than cutting corners with some of the lowest paid employees at the institution, the university should be looking in other areas.
Those employees who diligently come to work every day while roughing through colds and who arrange doctor’s appointments around their work schedules deserve something for not using up all of their sick time and avoiding throwing out productivity in the work place.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), employee benefits are one of the most important job satisfaction factors for employees. Taking away an employee benefit such as sick leave payout could potentially give employees a negative outlook on their jobs.
SHRM also reports “use-it-or-lose-it” sick leave policies end up costing employers more because employees tend to feel the need to use all of their allotted sick leave whether it is for an actual illness or not.
The current method of quarter pay for sick leave payouts is already a rip-off for the employees, but it’s better than nothing. If this new proposal goes through, it only seems right for employees to start calling in sick more often to utilize their full benefits.